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Dev Biol Stand. 1995;85:431-41.

Metabolic operons in Lactococci.

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Laboratoire de Génétique Microbienne, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Jouy-en-Josas, France.


The genes for the biosynthesis of histidine, tryptophan and branched-chain amino acids (ilv for isoleucine, leucine and valine) are clustered in large operons. In addition to genes encoding the pathway enzymes, the his and the ilv operons contain 4 and 3 other genes, respectively. The functions of two of these, orf3 and aldB are regulatory. The second gene of the his operon, orf3, encodes a protein homologous to the histidyl-tRNA synthetases. It is involved in transcription attenuation upstream of the his operon. This regulation is related to a new class of attenuation mechanisms controlling the expression of most tRNA synthetase genes and a few metabolic operons in Gram-positive bacteria. Gene aldB, the penultimate gene of the ilv operon, encodes acetolactate decarboxylase. This enzyme transforms acetolactate (AL), the first intermediate of leucine and valine biosynthesis, into acetoin. AL decarboxylase is positively controlled by the availability of leucine and possibly valine in the cell. This is the key enzyme for a new class of regulatory mechanisms, a metabolic shunt which guides the AL flux towards synthesis of amino acids or a secondary metabolite.

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